Lichen-based vs hemp-based CBD
Recently, Grön switched from a lichen-based CBD to one derived from organic hemp, and to be honest, news of the switch initially had me a little worried. You see, I tend to lead what most people might call a “straight edge” lifestyle: I don’t drink, I don’t use cannabis, I don’t smoke tobacco, and I even avoid using things like Tylenol unless I absolutely have to (which, thankfully, hasn’t been for some time!). Some of this is for health reasons, some for philosophical reasons, and some of it is probably just plain stubbornness. Regardless, I found Grön’s alternative source of CBD intriguing, and it was enough to get me to take the plunge into CBD where I had been fairly trepidatious before.
However, after learning that the final product would be exactly the same at the chemical level, my worries were mostly put to bed. Of course, being the skeptical person that I am, I wondered if it was REALLY going to be the same. I understood that CBD is CBD at the molecular level, regardless of where it comes from, and if the isolation process is good enough to get out everything except the CBD molecule, then the final results should be virtually indistinguishable. But there aren’t a lot of studies about this sort of thing, and I wanted to know for myself.
So, I decide to test it! I use CBD oil every day for anxiety, athletic recovery, and as a sleep aid. So, I had Grön send me two bottles, one with their old, lichen-based CBD, and another with their new organic hemp oil, and I used each for one week and recorded my results. They didn’t tell me which was which to make sure the placebo effect didn’t creep into the picture.
So let’s get into it!
How I compared the two tinctures
Let’s be honest about something up front: this is not a scientific study and shouldn’t be taken as such. That being said, I wanted this to be as close to scientific as I could possibly get it, so I needed some sort of objective measurement by which to compare my two tinctures. Simply taking a tincture and writing down my anxiety levels or quality of sleep wouldn’t set us up for reliable results.
Thankfully, I’m a total nerd triathlete and go to some extreme measures for tracking my athletic performance and recovery. Over the years, I have settled on sleeping heart rate as my go-to method for knowing how recovered and ready my body is for hard training. Seriously, it’s truly amazing! Check out this nice article if you want more info on using resting heart rate as a recovery indicator. I wear a watch with a heart rate sensor to bed every night, and when I wake up, I see what my low and average heart rates were while I slept. Even a few beats higher than normal and I know I need to take it easy. Over 6 or 7 beats and I KNOW an illness is coming. It has worked without fail. The heart doesn’t lie.
What’s even better, I can’t consciously affect my heart rate while sleeping, since, you know, I’m unconscious. So the chances of a placebo effect creeping in are pretty unlikely. It’s the perfect measure to see which of these tinctures performs better!
Some baseline data
My basic training week is as follows. Monday is always a total rest day from endurance work. Sometimes I do some strength training, but I tend to take the day off entirely. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday I swim, with Sunday always being a long swim. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I bike, with Saturday always being a long ride. And Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday I run, with Sunday always being my long run.
This means I’m training two events every day, and that tends to build the fatigue as the week goes on. I like to keep records of my resting heart rate, so here is a week at random from a few months back:
- M: 43
- T: 38
- W: 40
- Th: 41
- F: 43
- S: 42
- Su: 44
As you can see, my heart rate starts creeping up ever so slowly throughout the week, until the long workouts on the weekend start putting me quite a few beats over my most rested day (Tuesday, being right after my rest day). This tells me my body is accumulating a lot of fatigue and needs to rest before hitting the training again.
Here are the rules I set up for this little experiment: each tincture gets one week where it is the only CBD I use. I always take one full dropper (about 15mg of CBD) after each of my workouts, and one dropper 30 minutes before going to sleep for the night. That’s 45mg of CBD per day total. I record my resting heart rate every morning.
If there is a difference in effectiveness between the lichen and hemp-based oils, I should notice that difference in my results.
Also, this might seem like a lot of CBD, and maybe it is, but that’s the regimen that works well for my body. Your results may vary, so check with your doctor and do your own experimentation!
Week one – Bottle X
Grön sent me two tinctures with no labels, one marked with an “X” and one marked with a “?” (for the purposes of the writeup, I am going to call bottle “?” bottle “Y”. Writing “bottle ?” just gets confusing). I decided I would start with the “X” bottle.
I have tried a few hemp-based CBD oils in the past, and they always have a pretty strong hemp flavor to them. It’s not a flavor I really enjoy, so avoiding that would be nice.
I was told both tinctures would be Grön’s unflavored variety, and that seems to be just what I got. Aside from the very light flavor of coconut oil, which doesn’t have a ton of flavor to begin with, this tincture is totally flavorless. No hints as to whether this is the lichen or hemp-based oil here.
My subjective opinions aren’t the most important thing here, but I do have to say that I FEEL a difference, real or imagined, when I use the tinctures for recovery.
In the past, my workouts, particularly my longer weekend ones, can sometimes wreck me. By “wreck,” I mean I just feel run down and like I have been “hit by a bus” for the rest of the day, or two, after a particularly hard training session.
Using the CBD, that doesn’t seem to happen as much. Of course, I still get tired, who wouldn’t after a 4 hour bike ride or after running hill sprints, but it doesn’t “wreck” me like it used to. I feel more ready for the next workout, and even feel like I could go again immediately after.
I rarely felt like that before.
Here are my stats from week one:
- M: 40
- T: 37
- W: 39
- Th: 39
- F: 40
- Sa: 39
- S: 40
My stats from week one are noticeably different. Trust me, I have been obsessively monitoring my sleeping heart rate for a few years now, and to get my heart rate this low and consistent WHILE training never happens.
This sort of blows my mind, to be honest, and backs up what I was feeling during the week. Your resting heart rate is a wonderful gauge of how recovered your body is, and these numbers show me a body that is adequately recovering from each workout by the next morning.
Week two – Bottle Y
Time to move onto the next bottle!
I’m not sure what was going on here, but the first time I tried bottle Y I SWEAR I could taste a difference. I’m not sure what it was, and it was insanely subtle, but it tasted like something was going on in bottle Y that wasn’t going on in Bottle X. However, the second time I tried it, and every time after, I tasted absolutely nothing, just like with bottle X.
In fact, after the two weeks were done I tried a few drops of them back to back and could not differentiate them at all, so this had to be in my head.
What I think happened is that since I had such great results with bottle X, I started assuming bottle Y was the new hemp-based stuff, so my brain was looking for that hemp flavor. Usually, in my experience, the mind finds what it’s looking for.
My ultimate conclusion is that I was initially crazy and there isn’t a difference between the two in terms of taste.
I had the exact same feeling week two as I did week one: things just generally felt like they went a little easier and workouts hit me a little less hard. It isn’t as if my workouts were easier, either! My training actually went up slightly from week one to week two, so if anything, I worked out harder this week.
Still, things felt good and roughly the same.
Here are my stats from week two:
- M: 39
- T: 37
- W: 40
- Th: 39
- F: 38
- Sa: 39
- S: 40
Again, the heart rate was lower across the board and looks relatively identical to me. I would need a much larger sample size to average across to be sure, but to me, the two tinctures are virtually the same.
So which was which? Turns out, bottle X was the new hemp-based oil while bottle Y had Grön’s old lichen-based oil. So the taste issue WAS all in my head! Just goes to show, even when you try to keep things as objective as possible, your brain can make assumptions and still try to throw a wrench in the mix.
What does this all mean? Honestly, not a whole lot, but it IS interesting. It means that for me, during those two weeks, and for that one particular purpose, hemp-based CBD and lichen-based CBD performed exactly the same.
Does that mean they will perform exactly the same for you? I can’t say that for sure, as this little experiment only proves what happened for me during that particular time. However, if I had to guess, I would say they should act basically the same for everyone. If you saw results with a lichen-based oil, you should see those same results with a hemp-based one. If you saw no results with the lichen-based oil, then I would imagine you would continue seeing no results with the hemp-based oil.
But what do I know? Hope you found this interesting, and if you have any questions, or want to share the results of your own informal experiment, leave a comment below!